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Be Gentle With the Dog, Dear!

by Matthew J. Baek

Published by Dial, 2008
32 pages
ISBN: 9780803732506

Ages 2-4

Life is pretty insufferable when you’re a dog named Tag living with a toddler named Elisa. In spite of her parents’ constant reminders to be gentle with the dog, Elisa is anything but. She squeezes him too hard, pulls his tail, sits on him, and even takes his favorite toy. But it ends happily with the first time the baby pets the dog on her own (“Gen-tle. Gen-tle.”), which comes as quite a surprise to the cringing canine. This first picture book by a new author/artist shows a talent for understatement that’s coupled with a distinctive, humorous art style. Matthew J. Baek makes excellent use of negative space and the drama of turning the page to show how threatened the dog feels whenever the baby is around. Baek is also very good at drawing babies—he really understands their center of gravity and how their little bodies move, something that comes across well even in his highly stylized illustrations. The story features an interracial family with a white mom and an Asian American dad.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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